Secular Sea-Level Change

  • S. M. Nakiboglu
  • K. Lambeck
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 334)


Sea-level change as recorded by tide gauges exhibits a complex spatial and temporal variability for a number of reasons, including tectonic movements of changes in ocean volume and the adjustment of the crust to major Late Pleistocene deglaciation, and to recent mountain glacier melting. Tide gaude records have been analysed by least squares regression for secular trends and mean regional trends have been estimated for 10° × 10° areas. These have been expanded into a surface spherical harmonic series, yielding the global long wavelength pattern of sea-level change. The low degree terms in this expansion represent a combination of tectonic change and local or regional changes in sea-level. The eustatic rise, reflecting a change in water volume and corresponding to the zero degree harmonic, is estimated as 1.15 ± 0.38 mm/year. The first degree terms in the expansion are negligibly small, indicating that there is no significant shift in the centre of mass of the ocean relative to the solid Earth. Of the second degree terms only the zonal coefficient is significant with an equatorial sea-level rise and a polar sea-level drop. The contributions from recent changes in mountain glacier volumes and postglacial rebound to the spatial variability are significant but not for the very low degree terms. The separation of these contributions from the observed change yields a globally averaged secular steric change of about 0.5 mm/year but the uncertainties are large. The mainly zonal geometry of the steric change implies greater thermal expansion effects in low latitudes than in high latitudes.


Tide Gauge Mountain Glacier Tide Gauge Record Area Means Tide Gauge Observation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Nakiboglu
    • 1
  • K. Lambeck
    • 2
  1. 1.Civil Engineering DepartmentKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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